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London Law at 50 Celebrating a half-century of Notre Dame Law in London

Notre Dame Law School embarked on a unique experiment in legal education in the fall of 1968.

Instead of spending the 1968-1969 academic year at the South Bend campus, some members of the Law School’s second-year class would study in London.

Over the past half-century, more than 1,500 budding Notre Dame Lawyers have gone to England to deepen their understanding of the roots of American law and to prepare for legal careers in an increasingly interconnected world.

Read on to see how the London Law Program developed, and how it served as an anchor for a much larger Notre Dame presence in London. Visit law.nd.edu/london50 for more information about this year’s celebrations marking the program’s 50th anniversary.

"The practitioner of the future must understand in a general way, at least, legal systems other than his own."

- Dean William B. Lawless, 1968

1968

The Notre Dame London Law Program is born with 20 students from Notre Dame Law School enrolling in the Faculty of Law, University College, University of London, for the 1968-1969 academic year. The curriculum consists of a combination of courses traditionally taught at Notre Dame and elective courses in comparative and international law.

Dean William B. Lawless ’44 J.D., who led Notre Dame Law School from 1968 to 1971, started the London Law Program.
Professor Conrad Kellenberg, a member of the Law School’s faculty from 1955 to 2005, was the London Law Program’s first director.

London Memories

“I was probably the first of the original ‘London Luckies’ to sign up for the London Law Program in 1968, when it was first offered by then-Dean Lawless. My participation in the program and year abroad based in London was a life-changing, one-of-a-kind event for me. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity that Notre Dame provided me during that very eventful year.”

– Thomas DiGrazia ’70 J.D., member of the first London class

1970

Notre Dame Law School launches its London summer program in American law at the University of London. Students from 40 American law schools are invited to apply. More than 90 students enroll in the seven-week program.

1971

Notre Dame Law School secures quarters at 23A Bloomsbury Square to establish its own independent educational program in London, starting with the 1971-1972 academic year.

London Memories

“The Notre Dame London Law Program initialized my entry into international travel, which has continued through the present. … When I graduated from Notre Dame Law School, I was headed back home to Oregon with the intent of starting my legal career there. However, on the trip home I stopped off in Reno, Nevada. I checked the ND book for alumni and called Robert LeGoy, a 1977 Law School graduate who it turns out had spent 1976 in London, so I had never met him at ND. Bob convinced me to stay a few days in Reno and introduced me to other ND Law grads for job interviews. That connection led to a summer internship in Reno, which turned into a full-year internship, which turned into a full-time job in the Washoe County District Attorney’s Office for 12 1/2 years, and then a solo private practice the past 28 years. Needless to say, that introduction not only led to the job. It was not long after that I met my wife, Janet, we bought a home, we raised two daughters, Lisa and Sally, and now 40 years later, it’s a career with retirement at hand, and more world travels already set for the years ahead.”

– Edwin T. Basl ’78 J.D.

1972

The London Law Program relocates to 14A Airlie Gardens in the city's Kensington neighborhood.

1976

The program moves to the former site of the College of St. Mark and St. John in Chelsea.

1977

Notre Dame’s College of Business Administration, now known as the Mendoza College of Business, creates a semester-long program for MBA students to study in London.

London Memories

“Nancy and I did not actually meet at Notre Dame. We did not know each other as first-years. We met in London during our second year there and began dating after she came to our Halloween party dressed as Miss Representation. The rest is now history. The London class was only about 25 or 30 then, with just over half coming from ND. It was also a much more primitive environment than is the case now. ND rented a vacant building at the old Kings College on Kings Road in Chelsea before it became trendy — although skinheads and spiked hair had already made their emergence. Heat was scarce in the building, and I will never forget taking our fall final exams while wearing our winter coats and having to wipe our noses to avoid dripping on our ‘blue books.’ Needless to say, it was a very enjoyable year where we made some great friends and were able to travel on breaks through Great Britain and Europe.”

– Mike Borders ’81 J.D., who met his wife Nancy Borders ’81 J.D. in the London Program

1981

Notre Dame receives a $4 million gift from the estate of Dagmar Concannon, the widow of prominent Chicago lawyer Matthias Concannon. The gift enables the Law School to enter into a long-term lease and pay for renovations at 7 Albemarle Street in London’s Mayfair neighborhood. The program could finally settle into a permanent location after residing in several temporary locations during previous years.

1981

The University of Notre Dame starts a program that enables undergraduate juniors in the College of Arts and Letters to study in London for a semester.

1983

Chief Justice Warren E. Burger of the U.S. Supreme Court speaks at the Notre Dame London Law Centre’s dedication on July 29, 1983.

“In more than the quarter of a century that I have been on the bench, my visits to courts wherever I traveled have given me a better understanding of how those systems work. Observation of other systems is essential to improving any system of justice.”

– Chief Justice of the United States Warren E. Burger, 1983

“It’s a marvelous thing for young lawyers to be citizens of the world and to know how law is a force for peace, because it’s for justice … .”

– Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., 1983

London Memories

“When we went on our Christmas break, one of my friends and I took the requisite European train journey around, and we stopped in Vienna. And instead of going and seeing the Family Von Trapp stuff, we went to UNCITRAL, which is the United Nations Center for International Trade Law, because our international trade prof, Clive Schmitthoff, was like the father of international trade law. It was somewhat of a geeky moment, but we went there, and we told them we were students of Professor Schmitthoff, and we were treated like princes.”

– Tim Maher ’90 J.D.

1987

Notre Dame Law School graduates the London Law Program’s first LL.M. students.

1997

The University starts a comprehensive London program for all undergraduates in the Colleges of Arts and Letters, Business Administration, Engineering, and Science.

1998

The University relocates its London programs to accommodate the increasing number of students studying in London. Through a bequest from Charles K. Fischer ’49, the University is able to renovate the former United University Club at 1-4 Suffolk Street near Trafalgar Square. The building is named Marian Kennedy Fischer Hall in honor of his mother.

2011

The University opens Conway Hall as a residence hall for Notre Dame students studying in London. For the first time, Notre Dame has a student residence of its own beyond campus.

The building — the former Royal Waterloo Hospital for Children and Women — undergoes a complete renovation and is named in honor of Robert and Ricki Conway. Bob Conway ’66 is a longtime London resident whose gift made it possible for Notre Dame to establish the residence hall for students.

2011

Dean Nell Jessup Newton announces that the Law School will begin allowing law students to spend a single semester, instead of the full year, in the London Law Program. Also, the Law School will allow third-year students to spend a semester or a full year in London.

2012

The University of Notre Dame officially designates its London facilities as the London Global Gateway.

At the dedication, University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., notes, “Notre Dame has had a presence in London since 1968, when our first students came here to study law.” He calls the University’s London programs “the flagship … of an ambitious international agenda.”

London Memories

“The Notre Dame London Law Program affords a unique experience and is not just for students destined to become international lawyers. I came into the program knowing that I wanted to become a criminal public defender in the United States. My comparative and international law classes provided me the opportunity to critically compare America’s criminal justice system with that of the United Kingdom and elsewhere. The highlight of my experience was my yearlong externship at JD Spicer Zeb Solicitors, a criminal defense firm that allowed me to work on criminal cases pending against the firm’s low-income clients. Because of the London Program, my 2L year was the happiest and most enriching year of education in my life.”

– Carlene Miller ’17 J.D.

2018

By 2018, Notre Dame International operates five global gateways in London, Beijing, Dublin, Jerusalem, and Rome, as well as six global centers in Asia, Europe, and Latin America.

The London Global Gateway remains the largest of Notre Dame’s five global gateways. More than 400 undergraduates, 50 law students, and many graduate students and faculty spend time in London for a summer, a semester, or a full academic year.

Overall, more than 1,200 Notre Dame students study abroad at foreign locations each year.

Notre Dame Law School and Notre Dame International are marking the 50th year of the London Law Program with celebrations throughout 2018 at the London Global Gateway. Visit law.nd.edu/london50 for more information.

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